Facts About Hair Extensions

Facts About Hair Extensions
Facts About Hair Extensions (Image: Jessie Terwilliger)

Hair extensions can be an instant way to add length and thickness to tresses. Whether trying to grow out a too-short cut or choosing a daring look for a special night, the versatility of hair extensions makes them a popular choice. With such a wide selection of extensions and methods of application, the single most important step is to be an educated consumer and know the style one is trying to achieve.

Human or Synthetic Hair?

Extensions made from human hair can be colored, curled, permed or straightened. Care should be taken when exposing them to heat but overall they can be treated just as one would treat the hair on her head. In contrast, synthetic hair is made of petrol products and will melt when exposed to direct heat. Synthetic hair can be set on soft rollers to achieve curls but can never be colored. For these reasons, human hair can cost five to 10 times more than synthetic.

Colored synthetic extension
Colored synthetic extension

Human Hair Options

If one chooses to purchase human hair, he should be aware of the different grades offered. The most coveted, and costly, is "virgin" hair. It has undergone no chemical treatments and should be healthy and lush. "European" hair is the most popular choice in hair extensions. It is strong and durable but most likely has been dyed or processed. It can last up to one year with proper treatment and is less costly than the virgin variety. "Asian" hair is best suited for someone looking for dark, coarse hair. It is the least expensive type of human hair but dries out quickly from normal daily use.

Short Term Options

Clip-in hair extensions can be a great way to add length for a short period of time. Wefts of hair, similar to a curtain, are sewn onto clips. These can be easily placed into the hair where length or thickness is desired. Shorter pieces can be added for instant bangs.

Clip-in hair weft
Clip-in hair weft

Long Term Extensions

If one is looking to wear hair extensions for a longer period of time, there are several different methods of application. Weaving is the most popular technique and involves sewing the extensions into the hair. One could also choose to have the extensions bonded with glue or by heat fusion. These can be left in place for up to three months depending on the speed of hair growth. After this time, it is necessary to return to the salon and repeat the procedure. All of these procedures can be completed within a three-to-five-hour appointment with a qualified professional.


Synthetic hair extensions, which are more suited for short-term wearing, cost from $5 to $500 and come in a variety of colors and textures. They can easily be applied at home, saving the cost of a salon visit.

Expect to pay up to $2,500 for quality human hair extensions. Add in the frequent maintenance visits to a hairdresser, and they could cost you several hundred to $1,000 dollars every couple months.

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